Who To Watch 2020

Watch Erlin Rogel & Nicole Verdi Rise in Local Politics...

Erlin Rogel: Chief of Staff for Providence City Council • Nicole Verdi: Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Raimondo

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2022 could be an awkward year in the Rogel-Verdi household. That’s when their respective bosses – Providence City Council President Sabina Matos and Governor Raimondo’s Chief of Staff Brett Smiley* – are expected to be among the top contenders for Mayor of Providence. Of course, by then it wouldn’t be surprising if one or both halves of Providence’s Millennial political power couple are on the ballot in their own right.

At the beginning of 2019, Rogel and Verdi, both native Rhode Islanders and Roger Williams Law School grads, were working as a teacher in Providence Public Schools and lawyer at Adler Pollock & Sheehan respectively. By mid-summer they ascended near the upper reaches of the org charts at City Hall and the State House.

They got there by paying their dues in local politics. Verdi was practically born into public service, the daughter of the Deputy Chief of Providence Police. She serves on the City Plan Commission and worked as counsel for the Rhode Island State Investment Commission. Rogel, meanwhile, has served behind the scenes on political campaigns – including Buddy Cianci’s in 2014 – and is a member of the Rhode Island Latino Political Action Committee; he’s also a co-founder of Millennial RI, the networking group for Rhode Islanders of a certain age.

With their newfound proximity to power, both plan to use these opportunities to serve the place they call home. “I feel a sense of duty to make the most of my time in this position,” says Verdi. “I’m going to do everything I can to move the state forward and improve the lives of my fellow Rhode Islanders.”

“I get to play a big role behind the scenes on numerous policy initiatives and community projects,” says Rogel. “I’m excited to get to work on all of it. By the end of 2020 I hope I’ve made a difference for other Prov babies just like me.”

While they won’t try to predict the future (“I tend to not plan the next chapter and let fate lead the way,” Rogel says), both mentioned the possibility of running for office in the not-too-distant future. Neither would have to look very far to find a good campaign manager.

*Editor’s note: As this was going to press it was announced that Brett Smiley will become the Acting Director of the Department of Administration and Senior Advisor David Ortiz will take over as Chief of Staff.